Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Which is more common after childbirth? Postpartum depression or anxiety?
“All the responsibility that comes with taking care of another person is incredible, and it wouldn’t surprise me that the moms do have a lot of anxiety,” says Forbes Regional Hospital obstetrician Dr. Benjamin Peticca.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 new mothers, average age 29, for a study in the journal “Pediatrics.” One in five reports mental stress in the time leading up to delivery and as they adjust to a larger family.
This includes intense emotions in response to stressful and threatening situations, especially while still in the hospital.
“Just being in a hospital is stressful for a lot of people. Being away from home,” Dr. Peticca points out.
Seventeen percent feel this kind of anxiety, compared to only six percent feeling depressed.
“You have all kinds of worries… is the baby feeding enough, is the baby crying too much, is the baby sleeping too much, do I have to change the diaper every so often?” he adds. “I’m actually surprised the numbers aren’t higher.”
Both anxiety and depression decrease substantially over the following weeks to months, and generally do not require treatment.
“It’s a normal reaction, I think, to a new event in your life,” he says.
Medication is an option for severe symptoms.
“It would be a situation where they would have so much anxiety they can’t carry out their functions,” Dr. Peticca says. “In other words, they can’t take care of the baby.”
Support and help from friends and family can help lessen feelings of worry.